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Tumor Glycomics

SRI’s Tumor Glycome Laboratory was established as one of the member laboratories of the trans-National Institutes of Health (NIH) Alliance of Glycobiologists for Detection of Cancer and Cancer Risk. These laboratories offer different approaches and concentrations to exploit the potential of glycomics to yield biomarkers for early cancer detection.

SRI’s Laboratory has a focused interest in the immunogenic sugar moieties that play key roles in the host recognition of complex carbohydrates and immune responses to carbohydrate antigens. Our project for the trans-NIH Alliance extends to tumor glycomics, with research emphasis in exploration of blood biomarkers of prostate cancers, including glycan markers of circulating tumor cells and serum anti-glycan antibodies that may signature the aggressive progression of prostate cancer.

SRI’s glycomics researchers and collaborators have made considerable efforts to establish carbohydrate-based microarrays to facilitate identification and characterization of carbohydrate moieties of biomedical importance. We published our first platform of carbohydrate microarrays in 2002. Subsequently, we developed technologies for construction of the epitope-specific glycan arrays. These include a method for photo-generation of oligosaccharide arrays and the most recent development of novel platforms of carbohydrate cluster microarrays.

Our research activities using these technologies have led to the discovery of autoimmunogenic sugar moieties of SARS-CoV, a highly potent immunological target of Bacillus anthracis exosporium, and a number of cryptic glycan markers in human tumors.

The thrust of SRI’s glycomics team is identification and characterization of carbohydrate-based immunological targets of human cancers and microbial pathogens, as well as development of highly sensitive assays for clinical and research applications.

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A Blood Test to Identify Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Denong Wang describes how SRI’s Tumor Glycome Laboratory has found a biomarker that identifies the most aggressive form of prostate cancer. Further study will confirm if a blood test can provide a much-needed tool to differentiate between aggressive cancer and the majority of cases which are slow-growing tumors.